A Conversation: Aligning Brand Messages with Specialty Categories, Retail Needs

  • With the natural and organic trend become more the rule than the exception, beauty brands need to figure out the best way to communicate their principles and values to target consumers.
  • One way to display a brand’s values is through the channels and venues they retail through. A quality retail story and environment can amplify a brand’s message.

On the website for Pola Orbis Holdings, which has owned the Jurlique brand since late 2011, Satoshi Sazuki, president and CEO of the Pola Orbis Group, indicated that one of the company’s goals is to “inspire all people and touch their hearts.” This should resonate particularly with the naturally focused Jurlique, a skin care brand that looks to organic and biodynamic* ingredients to help develop and utilize its unique Bio-Intrinsic process to create pure, powerful beauty products.

Just as consumers are becoming more aware of what they eat and where and how their food ingredients were sourced, they want to know about the ingredients in their beauty products and how they were sourced. To that end, Jurlique has a big stake in the growing natural and organic beauty category. According to a report published in early 2013 by Kline and Company, sales of organic products in the U.S. are expected to exceed $11 billion by 2016. This category has been experiencing double-digit growth since 2005, showing the continued growth of the organic and natural trend, which really is becoming more of a cultural imperative at this point.

This interest in natural and organic is also spurring on a larger wellness movement, which can incorporate beauty treatments and spa and salon offerings—in addition to products. More and more, beauty brand owners are recognizing the importance of meeting the consumer where she shops. For spas and salons, this often means aligning with a brand that can support marketing and that will help those retailing the brand’s products expand their business. This is a partnership that will support both businesses, brand and retailer.

The lines are blurred in the professional beauty arena, which includes spas and salons, and brands are challenging the “professional-only” category, which can limit the opportunity for the brand. It also has challenged the professional beauty industry, but those who are successful will have recognized the importance of brand recognition and partnership when it comes to selecting products. The bottom line is, consumers are often demanding salons and spas to have branded goods within their establishments—or they will shop elsewhere.

Jurlique, as an example of a brand with a natural/organic position and varied retail strategy, continues to grow its brand recognition through print advertising, and it also has a cult-like following among celebrities. The brand focuses on the sensorial experience as well, and that resonates with spas. Its products provide a luxurious experience for consumers, and plays to their senses for a memorable spa visit.

Where the Road Leads

In the following Q&A interview, Rose Fernandez, vice president of sales for North America for Jurlique, discusses the brand’s business strategies and product developments plans, and how it is capitalizing on its unique place in the market to grow in a more global brand.

Q: With the continued expanded growth anticipated in natural and organic beauty segments, how is Jurlique’s business today, what distribution channels do you play in and what are your plans for North America?

A: Our business in North America is very healthy, and we see great potential for continued, strong future growth.

Our products and services can be found at spas and our flagship locations [in San Francisco, Santa Monica and New York]. Each of our locations has at least one treatment room. It’s important to us to be able to provide the full Jurlique experience.

It also makes us smart about the business overall; we are retailers and service providers, we know what it’s like to need to keep the room booked, [the] timing, cost, and it serves as a testing location for us with product. We also have our own website [and] are in limited specialty retailers and third-party dot-coms.

Q: The lines are blurred a bit by the different certifications that can authenticate natural brands. How does that affect your brand nationally and how you globally communicate to your consumer?

A: This is interesting because while there are a lot of certifications, there is not one recognized governing board that regulates the standards. It can become overwhelming to the consumer. Right now, we are working on our EU packaging, and that is a pretty stringent process.

Overall, we maintain the position that our products are made by us with ingredients from our biodynamic* farm in Adelaide Hills, Australia, which is certified by the National Association for Sustainable Agriculture, Australia since 2006. We take pride in the fact that biodynamic* is as organic as you can get. We grow our crops, and can attest to the quality and purity.

Beyond this, we also formulate, strive to clinically test all of our products, manufacture and distribute our own products. That’s pretty unique. We are quite proud of this—our customer outreach consistently reinforces the messages of our proprietary methods to grow and process botanicals.

Q: With the recent purchase of Jurlique by Pola Orbis in late 2011, what are the plans going forward in terms of product development, marketing strategies and the production of your ingredients?

A: Our acquisition by Pola Orbis provides us a strong growth platform to drive future innovation, natural skin science breakthroughs and overall awareness. Pola Orbis has a remarkable research facility. They are over 150 years old and have several patents. They really appreciate Jurlique for its strengths—natural, efficacy, our farm, our authentic heritage. [There will be] no changes there.

We will maintain our farm in the Adelaide Hills and continue to manufacture out of our current facility. There will be significant investment in Jurlique to propel growth, from every area, but noticeable to most will be in the product pipeline and national advertising.

Q: How do you maintain your founding principles of farm-derived ingredients going forward?

A: It is simply who we are and how we do business. We are strongly committed to maintaining our authenticity in delivering true, potent, farm-to-bottle products even as we grow globally. This commitment is an integral part of every function in the organization. Our farm spans 153 acres, and we have everything from plants to honey bees to kangaroos on our biodynamic* farm.

Jurlique has entrenched biodynamics* into its farming operations in conjunction with a commitment to ensure a positive footprint in the farms’ environment through effective soil management, revegetation and biodiversity. Biodynamics* is the key to production of the highest-quality plants for incorporation into Jurlique’s range of skin care products. It goes hand-in-hand with our proprietary Bio-Intrinsic process. This is what really sets us apart from a formulation perspective in creating authentic, potent, natural skin care.

Q: Are there any interesting ingredient stories that you are pursuing?

A: Always, but most notable and used throughout our brand is calendula. We grow calendula on our farm. The ingredient is in one of our most iconic products, calendula cream. We think of calendula as nature’s Neosporin.

You can expect to see some more coming out of this single ingredient in a bigger way, with some compelling independent research studies that demonstrate the potency and efficacy we can achieve through our distinctive ways of growing and processing calendula.

Q: What is the biggest obstacle you will face and how do you plan to address it?

A: The continued opportunity to educate people on the fact that natural can be efficacious, that synthetic ingredients are not necessary to deliver results. At Jurlique we know this to be true, and with this knowledge, we invest heavily in clinical testing to demonstrate to the consumer that it is real.

Q: What is your impression on the variances in spa world versus other retail distribution avenues? Does it make it easier for the consumer to reach the brands they crave?

A: There is a huge opportunity with the spa channel. The spa world allows our products to truly shine as they encapsulate the experience, that sensorial and emotional aspect that is so important to who we are.

Our founders believed very much in wellness, and while wellness can be found in many places, it is naturally found in spas. The connection with the esthetician and the relationship to Jurlique through [that person] is very important.

Spa is a huge focus for us, but in the end we also know that our customer shops where it is convenient for her, so it is important to us to have specialty retail partners that can provide a great environment, with great service and represent us well from how we look on shelf to how the store staff recommends products.

Q: Why is it important to you to maintain and expand your partnerships in spas?

A: Our authentic heritage is spa. Our founders were committed to spa. The beauty of our products is the ritual, the experience of the natural scent, the texture of the products, the beauty in knowing that our products are the best of nature and science—and the touch of the esthetician is elemental in this journey.

Being a sophisticated luxury skin care brand, Jurlique naturally fits in the spa arena, where there is a more sophisticated, high-end consumer. Our focus is wellness, and this can be experienced at a hotel or resort spa and day spa. We look for partners that are focused on providing the best service, an experience and that embrace the Jurlique ritual so that we can influence as many people as possible on the healing power of nature.

Q: Does Jurlique have to change its packaging or marketing messaging at all for this channel? What’s plan to keep the momentum moving forward?

A: The beauty of our products is that they speak for themselves. The sensorial nature of our products is accessible by consumers in all channels. Our use of natural ingredients helps to tell our story. We strive to clinically test product formulations to validate the efficacy. Clinical tests are important to us, [as] they not only help to tell the consumer our promise but they also reinforce [our brand position]. Our biggest opportunity is to increase awareness—we invest heavily in national advertising, mainly [via] major beauty, travel and lifestyle publications for the consumer and a couple of key trade publications. We also have significant media [presence] through extensive PR and social media. We also participate in trade show events and boutique networking events.

Q: Has Jurlique changed how it speaks to consumers about the brand and its products?

A: Our voice is authentic because our products are authentic; we strive to be 95% natural, therefore it is important to us that we speak in real terms that consumers can relate to. Our goal is to educate people that natural is effective.

Our proprietary Bio-Intrinsic process, which is an artisanal approach backed by generations of research and development, utilizes the entire plant to draw out potent elements present in our botanicals. We know it’s impossible to manufacture pure skin care, and that’s why we grow it instead.

*Certified biodynamic by the National Association of Sustainable Agriculture, Australia. Jurlique’s products and farm are not certified biodynamic by Demeter in the United States.

Elaine Sauer is a licensed esthetician, CIDESCO diplomat, and a spa and beauty industry expert with vast experience in sales, training and operational management. She has worked with companies including Salon Systems, Murad and Red Door Spa Holdings, and she can be reached at [email protected].

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